Motivation Essay Example

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Many studies that have been conducted show a positive effect on unmet basic needs to the children academic outcome. Unmet basic needs have resulted in poor academic review in many schools. According to Maslow, who developed an influential theory suggests that children deficiency needs are supposed to be satisfied to achieve the growth needs like academic achievements (Bhattacharya, 2010). The majorities of the United States children attend school but still have deficiency needs. According to the (FIFCFS) Federal, Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics (2010), in the United States majority of children who are of school age are exposed to food insecurity, poverty, and parental unemployment. Students having deficiency needs do interfere with their learning process. Hence, the school is made accountable for the academic outcome. Schools are faced with this challenge of ensuring the student can perform well even those who meet deficiency needs like safety needs, psychological needs and belonging needs. The educational psychologists have recognized the essential need of motivation in improving the student outcome in learning.

So what is the motivation?

Motivation is the factor that triggers one to or not to perform a particular task. There are two types of motivation the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The intrinsic motivation is what triggers one to do a particular action even though there is no reward or external stimulus. On the other hand, intrinsic motivation involves incentives that makes one engage in an activity, which are not engaging or pleasing. Researchers from another field like education, psychology, human development and business have gained interest on the topic of motivation. In the previous years; educators preferred intrinsic motivation to extrinsic motivation on learning. However, both types of motivation in the current years have shown to have an effect on student learning achievement (West, 2007).

What are the motivation theories?

Motivation theories are classified into process and content approaches. The content theories focus on personal goals and needs. They include Maslow’s hierarchy, Herzberg’s theory, and Alderfer. The process theories concentrate on the occurrence of motivation. They include equity theory and expectancy theory. Equity theory developed by John Stacey Adam explains other factors of motivation except payment. Employees get motivated when they are fairly treated. Employees are unfairly treated they feel demotivated and disaffection. Fairly treatment created a good relationship between the organization and its co-workers (Leech, Barrett & Morgan, 2008).

Herzberg’s motivation theory splits the hygiene factors from the motivators. The hygiene factors are show dissatisfaction while motivators show satisfaction. Herzberg theory believes that satisfied employees continue to work in the same organization while unsatisfied employees may look for other options and do not generate good performance.

Clayton P Alderfer developed Alderfers theory in 1969. He simplified the Maslow hierarchy of needs. It involves three categories: existence needs, relatedness needs and growth needs. The existence needs consist of the physiological and safety needs. Secondly, the related needs, which consist of the belonging needs. Lastly, the Growth need, which constitute of self- actualization and self-esteem need (Leech, Barrett & Morgan, 2008).


Alderfers theory

David McClelland developed three basic needs that people acquire in their life experience. They include needs for achievement, power, and affiliations. A person who is in need for achievement tries to achieve his goal. The person who has a need for affiliation wants to create a relationship with others to be accepted. The person who seeks to achieve the need of power wants to rule other people.

Motivation 1

McClelland’s Achievement Need Theory

Victor Vroom in 1964 came up with the expectancy theory. The theory confirms why people behave in a particular manner, which has an effect on the expected outcome. Expectancy theory involves three components, which are Expectancy, Instrumentality, and Valency. Expectancy is the person’s effort that will assist them in attaining the desired goal (Zigler & Finn-Stevenson, 2007). Instrumentality is the belief a person has that he will get a particular reward if he meets the expectation. Valency is the degree of the worthiness of a particular reward that a person perceives.

Motivation 2

Motivation = expectancy * instrumentality * valence

Goal Theory

In 1968, Edwin Locke developed the Goal theory. The theory suggests if set individual goals that are challenging then the level of performance and motivation are expected to be high. The feedback is based on the overall performance. The theory suggests for an individual to reach goals that are harder, he is expected to put more effort. Additionally, when one set a specific objective, he can achieve more as compared to collective goals.

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow is a psychologist who developed the Maslow hierarchy needs. The hierarchy consisted of the five basic needs. The basic needs are arranged to start from the lower to the highest order according to the importance of human existence (Miller & Rose, 2009).

The lower order is also referred as deficiency needs and includes the safety need, psychological needs and belonging needs. Higher –Order needs is also regarded as growth needs and include self-actualization and self-esteem needs. In the case of a school, achievement is classified under the esteem need. According to Maslow if a person meets the deficiency need, from there can progress in achieving the growth needs. An individual is supposed to meet each level of need at a particular time. Sometimes a person can be motivated simultaneously by multiple needs. For instance, a child can meet esteem need even though the necessity of belonging was not sufficiently fulfilled. In other cases, the satisfied deficiency need can result in motivation. For example, a person loses a job may tend to sacrifice his growth needs like an achievement to meet the deficiency need like food security.

Schools do not consider the implication of Maslow theory as all students are supposed to achieve regardless if their deficiency needs are fulfilled or not. Studies carried out indicate that people from different socioeconomics have different needs (Knight, McGowan, Dickens & Bundy, 2006). For instance, people from lower socioeconomic are more concerned with satisfying the deficiency needs while the middle economic are determined in meeting the growth needs. Additionally, indicated that people with growth needs make a good decision involving self-care and health –promoting behaviors. The satisfaction of basic needs has a great impact on the psychological health.

Americas school concern on deficiency need

In America’s schools, there is an increase in the number of children joining school even if they face the shortage of satisfying their psychological needs. The statistics of( FIFCFS,2010) indicated that for every five children one child was living in poverty this has continually increased since 1998.Highest rate is experienced by the Hispanic and black children. Parental employment has continuously declined since 1996.While 22% of children according to the finding have food insecurity thus, unable to have enough food.

The issue raises lots of concern especially for schools, as children who live in poverty are likely to perform poorly in their academic. It is because poverty has a positive impact on academic achievement and child cognitive abilities. Studies carried out by Bush & Bergen (2011), indicated that schools with high –poverty levels students performance are lower as compared to the low –poverty levels. Additionally, achievement is also affected by other factors such as lower expectations, fewer resources, and lack of experienced staffs.

Belonging needs is vital for children success. Statistics carried out by FIFCS (2010) in 2008, reported that in every one thousand children/, only ten face maltreatment. It not only deals with maltreatment but also issues affecting parenting that involves closeness, bonding as well as positive regard. Therefore, psychological needs, poverty, and family characteristics have an influence on cognitive and academic child development. For instance, parent support during child adolescents has a significant impact on academic achievements. Additionally, the parent involvement, support, lack of conflict, and monitoring results to high social and academic competence.

Safety need is an example of a deficiency need that influences the child cognitive and academic competence. Safety need that is accessed in children is on the quality of dental and health care. About 7.5 million children in the United States lack health care insurance. Therefore, because they are uninsured, they are limited to access the dental and health care services. According to Kitzman et al. (2010), children who visit their nurses regularly score very high on mathematics and reading especially on the child first years in school. Lack of health care has an effect on child’s achievement .for instance, lack of health care can result in absenteeism, problems with vision, suffering from chronic illness, disability and, difficult to concentrate due to an injury or illness.


education, religion, hobbies, personal growth

approval of family, friends, community


family, friends, clubs

freedom from war, poison, violence


Food, water, sex


Academic achievement in a student is highly affected by the satisfaction of deficiency needs like belonging and safety needs. Educators should not only embrace on academic excellence but also on other primary means like mental health, social, emotional behaviors’ and physical health as they contribute to good performance in schools. Health and dental care should be carried out to prevent health issues that can become severe and cause absenteeism. For instance, difficulty in hearing or blurry vision causes a problem in the process of learning. Additionally, children who have not been received treatment from asthma, allergies deficit disorders, which require attention may have difficulty in attending schools. The issue brings concerns to children who have not been insured for medical coverage.


Bhattacharya, A. (2010). Children and adolescents frompoverty and reading development: A research review. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 26, 115–139.

Bush, K., & Bergen, D. (2011). Evaluation of an holistic case management intervention program for low-income families of K-6 grade children: The Butler County Success Program (BCSP). International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 5.

Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics (2010). America’s children in brief: Key national indicators of well-being. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Heckhausen, J., Wrosch, C., & Schulz, R. (2010). A motivational theory of life-span development. Psychological review, 117(1), 32.

Leech, N. L., Barrett, K. C., & Morgan, G. A. (2008). SPSS for intermediate statistics: Use and interpretation (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis Group.

Kitzman, H. J., Olds, D. L., Cole, R. E., Hanks, C. A., Anson, E. A., Arcoleo, K. J., et al. (2010). Enduring effects of prenatal and infancy home visiting by nurses on children: Follow-up of a randomized trial among children at age 12 years. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 164, 412–418.

Knight, K. M., McGowan, L., Dickens, C., & Bundy, C. (2006). A systematic review of motivational interviewing in physical health care settings. British Journal of health psychology, 11(2), 319-332.

Miller, W. R., & Rose, G. S. (2009). Toward a theory of motivational interviewing. American Psychologist, 64(6), 527.

West, D. (2007). Poverty and educational achievement: Why do children from low-income families tend to do less well at school? The Policy Press, 15, 283–297.

Zigler, E., & Finn-Stevenson, M. (2007). From research to policy and practice: The school of the 21st century. The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 77(2), 175–181.